21st Century Fox Quarterly Earnings Exceeds Expectations

Revenue was up 8% for the quarter to $7 billion while operating income hit $1.79 billion, flat versus the year-ago quarter. Fox CEO James Murdoch reinforced that message, but when pressed by analysts both Murdochs emphasized the company's commitment to long-term growth and execution of the core film and TV businesses. "Our solid first quarter performance puts us on track to achieve our overall financial and operational objectives for this fiscal year".

Lachlan Murdoch addressed the question of whether Fox had enough reach and muscle to compete in an increasingly global and cross-platform media market as the deep-pocketed tech giants move in.

The Murdochs also reiterated their confidence that the company's pending takeover of European satcaster Sky will be completed by June 2018. "Fox has the required scale".

The statement comes in a submission to Britain's competition regulator as the agency begins an investigation into whether Fox's plan to buy the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own would give Rupert Murdoch and his family too much control over the country's media. Domestic carriage payments from cable and satellite providers rose 11 percent because of contractual increases, pushing operating income for the division to $1.51 billion, a 9 percent increase from a year earlier.

Growing advertising sales and revenue from traditional and online distributors boosted 21st Century Fox's cable network programming division, its largest, in its first quarter.

Excluding items, Fox earned 49 cents per share, inline with market estimates.

Sky said this week its news channel may shut down if the approval does not go through. Higher rights fees for National Football League games and college football also kicked in during the quarter, driving up costs. And although NFL ratings are down as players protesting during the national anthem has dominated the news cycle and driven some fans away for the sport for political reasons, Fox - one of the league's primary broadcasters - hasn't suffered too much, with its broadcast revenue for the three months ended September 30 topping its performance for the same time previous year.

The filmed entertainment unit also faced tough year-over-year comps with operating income dropping 18% to $256 million.

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